Shirry & Boaz's Converted Auto Body Shop

Shirry & Boaz's Converted Auto Body Shop

Marcia Prentice
Jun 6, 2012

Name: Shirry Dolgin, Interior Designer, and Boaz Siton, General Contractor
Location: Los Angeles, California
Size: 1400 square feet
Years lived in: 1 1/2 years

I was expecting to see an industrial loft building when driving up to Shirry's place, but was surprised, intrigued and impressed to find an old auto body shop that was converted into a live/work space. The loft serves as both her and her husband's office space (they work together on projects) as well as their home.

Their landlord agreed to rent them the space, which was essentially an open box, with no kitchen or bathroom. Shirry had a master plan from the beginning, and promised the landlord that he was not going to recognize the place after she was finished with the design. I think Shirry and Boaz are here to stay for a while!

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: I would define the style as contemporary industrial.

Inspiration: The inspiration to design a live/work space like this came from a tour we took of some newly refurbished downtown Los Angeles lofts. There was a huge spike in old downtown buildings being converted into creative living environments. We were lucky enough to be invited to view a great tour of several lofts, and that instantly sparked our interest in loft style living.

Favorite Element: One of our many favorite elements is the wood slat divider we built to separate the space. The intention was to design something that was not a completely solid wall and to use a material that would complement all the grey walls and concrete floors. I felt we needed something earthy to soften it all. We looked at different elements of wood and decided to create a "screen" of 1 x 4 pine slats with just a small half inch gap between each piece, in a horizontal pattern.

Biggest Challenge: The biggest challenge was identifying how much space would be allocated for "work" vs. "living." I work a lot and I enjoy being around my office, so we quickly determined that we needed a very small space for the bedroom, and to keep the rest of the open space a part of the main area. By doing this we actually combine living and work more fluidly. During work hours the dining table is a conference table, the large sectional is an open meeting and lounge area, and the entire space becomes one large creative work environment.

What Friends Say: At first our friends surely thought we were crazy!! This space was never lived in. Actually, it was an auto body paint shop, and the owners used to use it for custom paint jobs on trucks and trailers. Hence the splatters of colorful paint on the concrete floors and large garage door opening. So when we told our friends that we would be converting it to a live/work space, they were very skeptical; however, they knew our skills would be up to the challenge. I think now they feel it's the coolest space to come over and hang out. Not only do they get a kick out of it when we get to roll up the garage door and let them drive their cars right into the place, but it's such a open and unique space, they all have said how much they love it!

Biggest Embarrassment: I don't think we really have one. We are so proud of what we have turned this place into!

Proudest DIY: There are many DIY projects we have done in the building — we are a team consisting of a designer and builder, after all. But I think our best piece is the light fixture we designed and built over the conference table. It's made with a huge reclaimed beam that we found at a lumber yard that was on its way to the dumpster. We then cut it to size, wired it, and added the Thomas Lights (stage lights) because we absolutely love their edgy industrial quality and the nod to being on stage. We used metal chains to suspend it from the ceiling beams, and use a remote control dimmer switch to turn the lights on.

Biggest Indulgence: The biggest indulgence has to be the 120" screen and projector. We use this as our main TV and have the best time screening movies and sports games on it. We didn't realize how miniature our regular TV looked on the large block wall until we installed this! It's kind of funny because we always feel we are at the movies!

Best Advice: Nobody really gave us advice on designing the space because we had our own visions, but the best I can give when tackling a space like this is, "Know the scale you are working in!" The choices made for this large lofty space did not come by trial and error. We thought of everything and planned it out just like we do with our clients' homes. We bought large scale pieces because our space was able to welcome them easily. This isn't the case for every home. My advice is to really look at what you have and work with it accordingly.

Dream Sources: I think the internet is generally a great source, even if you simply use it for inspiration and gathering ideas. Then once you have your ideas and a roadmap for what you want, you can save so much time by shopping for things online and gathering information before spending the time wandering around stores.

Resources of Note:



  • Office desks: IKEA
  • Sofa: Plummers
  • Conference Table: Crate&Barrel (no longer sold there)
  • White Dining Chairs:
  • Coffee Table: Plummers
  • TV Console Tables: CB2 (no longer sold there)
  • Red Ottomans:
  • Green Chairs: Purchased from a furniture store going out of business



  • Kitchen Lights: IKEA
  • All others were made by us



  • Original concrete with epoxy clear coat in semi-gloss finish



  • Just my hand renderings on the wall.

Thanks, Shirry & Boaz!

(Images: Marcia Prentice)

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